Personality-based elections

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

IN case you haven’t noticed our political culture has fully shifted from party system to personality politics.

In the national level, there is only one political party slate for the senate, the PDP Laban. The Hugpong Ng Pagbabago is a political aggrupation of candidates for the senate with different party affiliations. The candidates are known as HNP candidates, and none of them bandy their respective party affiliations.

There is the Otso Diretso that promotes the candidacies of eight would-be senators, none of whom are incumbents. Curiously, there is no political party or logo to associate them with but because of their association with the past Aquino administration, the public is simply aware that they are Liberal Party members, which they really are. In their campaign materials and in public appearances, however, they do not represent themselves as LP members. Don’t you wonder why?

The promotion of Otso Diretso is a strategy to make voters forget the scandals and corruption that were blamed on the LP under the PNoy administration.

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BALON DAGUPAN VS. LI-FE. In Dagupan City, we used to have the LPs and NPs as well.

Today, there is no trace of the two political parties at all. We have the Balon Dagupan team and Li-Fe team.  The candidates of both teams are more popularly associated with their standard bearers, namely Mayor Belen Fernandez and Vice Mayor Brian Lim.

Ditto for their respective candidates for the city council. It’s all now about name and face recall associated with either Mayor Belen or VM Brian.

In the provincial race, only the Espino team bandy the PDP-Laban political party.  The Arthur Celeste-Mark Lambino tandem does not represent one party since the two belong to different parties: Celeste is with the NP, while Lambino belongs to the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). Still, affiliations are known by the political party but by affiliations with the standard bearers: Espino or Celeste. Only PDP-Laban, chaired by Cong Spine, however, has a complete slate down to the municipal/city levels.

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PARTY-LIST BY ASSOCIATION.  Even in the party-list election, while names of the party list are what have to be voted upon, these are voted again by personal affiliations, not even by their advocacies for marginalized sectors.

In Pangasinan, there are two party-lists vying for roughly at least 200,000 votes (or 2% of votes cast for party-lists): Abono and Inang Mahal.

Abono is associated with Conrado Estrella III and Rosendo So while Inang Mahal is led by former Cong. Gina de Venecia.  So we expect voters in Pangasinan to do the same in the party-list election: Remember Manang Gina Venecia and vote for Inang Mahal; Conrado Estrella for Abono!

So bye-bye party system. Name and face recall is now the name of the political game in PH.

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ELECTORAL REFORMS. It is this aberration in the political system today that we must fully support a constitutional amendment to overhaul the system specifically as follows:

  1. All executive positions (President and VP, Governor and VG, Mayor and VM) must be voted as ONE (Block voting?). Our system today promotes political conflicts where the “vice” almost always belong to the opposing party. The “Vice” is never viewed as alter ego of the lead executive but as a fiscalizer. Consequently, political harmony is almost always absent in most political levels from the national to the local.
  1. Return the two-party system to compel political ideologies and advocacies as basis for elections. Our multi-party system engenders personality-based election since political ideologies are absent in a multi-party system. It is this system that gave birth to turncoatism as a culture in our political system.
  1. Abolish Party-list system. This will be the logical consequence of our proposed 2nd amendment. This has become the worst aberration of the system.
  1. Install a federal system of government and replace our presidential-bicameral system that experientially left small provinces’ and regions’ development with little opportunities to grow. Since neighboring provinces are sequentially grouped together as a region, accountability for governance is closer to the electorate.  The elected head of a region must serve the 3-4 provinces in the region.

Those opposed to a federal system maintain it will only further entrench political dynasties. Perhaps but traditional political dynasties in a province will now have to contend with other political dynasties in other provinces, and electorate in the region will have a choice whether to support the local dynasty in the province or that of the neighbor’s.

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PEACE AND ORDER CAMPAIGN. The Pangasinan police deserves a pat on the shoulder for taking the gun ban seriously to avert any chance for political violence in the province.

So far, peace and order in the province is steady as it goes. 

I note, however, that the campaign for the strict enforcement of local ordinances has already taken a backseat.

Curfew of minors are not strictly enforced in many barangays. Many motorcycle riders don’t wear helmets; motorcycles with loud mufflers roam the streets; half-naked tambays are smoking and drinking in public places are still common.

Sidewalk vendors not only continue to keep the pedestrians out on the streets, but the pedestrians are also still predisposed to ignore use of pedestrian lanes under the very noses of traffic enforcers. 

The campaign-election period actually is the best time to resume the campaign because it not only increases awareness for laws and ordinances but increases police visibility as well.

In both instances, political supporters would be well to keep their violent black ops in check because the police are in the neighborhood.

I am confident that our provincial, municipal-city police are capable of extending themselves to hit accomplish more by their focus on enforcement of ordinances. 

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HELP FOR COMELEC. In this issue, the Comelec Pangasinan has issued a warning to local politicians campaigning in towns and cities violating election rules.

“Laywer Eric Oganiza, acting provincial election supervisor of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Pangasinan said notices of violation will be sent to candidates warning of legal action if they do not dismantle their illegal campaign posters.”

We’d like to help him achieve his goal. The PUNCH will be more than happy to publish weekly list of candidates in Pangasinan whom the Comelec has written and warned, if only to inform them and the public that their candidates remain accountable for their omissions.

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BAD NEWS. There is bad news on the horizon for Dagupan-Metro Manila bus commuters like me.

Effective June, instead of our usual two transfer rides from Dagupan to our destination in Metro Manila, we will end up with Dagupan-Valenzuela, Valenzuela-EDSA, EDSA- final destination. That’s at least 3 bus/jeepney rides! Worse, we will have to contend with increased costs for fares. The fares from Valenzuela will cost more for the first 2 (?) kilometers. Ugh!

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